Welcome to my blog

Acupuncture specialist for Fertility, Facial rejuvenation, Pain relief, Fatigue.
Based at Harley Street and Kensington Central London.Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Over 25 year research and clinical experiences

Doctor who is passionate about acupuncture

I love what I do, I am good at it and I am always there for my patients. If you come and see me, you will know why I am standing out.
This blog is to introduce latest development and research of acupuncture and offer a chance of awareness of more treatment options for your condition. The blog is for information purpose only.

About Me

My photo

My specialised areas include fertility, facial rejuvenation, acne, vulvodynia, various pain conditions, chronic fatigue, neurological conditions, digestive problems

Practice contact for appointments and addresses 

Kensington: for appointments at Anamaya center Kensington (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays) please call at 02030110355 or email at info@anamaya.co.uk
Address: 1 Adam and Eve Mews, Kensington, London W8 6UG
2 min walk from High Street Kensington underground station

Harley Street: for appointments  at Harley Street (Wednesdays) please call ALO clinic at 02076368845 or email at info@aloclinic.com
Address
Suite 3 Harmont House
20 Harley Street, London W1G 9PH
5 min walk from Oxford Circus underground station

My background: I became a qualified medical doctor 25 years ago in Western medicine  in China and was well trained in Western medicine together with Chinese medicine in the best Medical University in Beijing, China. Particularly I was trained with Dr Zheren Xuan--famous orthopedics expert and founder of soft tissue surgery in China. Furthermore I had training in dermatology and oral and maxilofacial surgery in China. Also I had training in fertility and had research experiences in uterine smooth muscles and blood vessels in China and the UK. I am dedicated to treat patients with acupuncture and am recognised as one of the world leading acupuncture specialists.

I obtained a PhD degree in the University of Leeds in the UK.
I had post doctoral training and worked as a senior researcher in St George's hospital, London, UK.
I had frequently presented my research findings in the top international conferences in the field.
I have many publications including ebooks and articles.

I have many year clinical experiences. Over the years of practising, I have developed unique treatment approaches for infertility, skin aging, acne, vulvodynia, bladder pain, neck pain, headache, migraine, shoulder pain, back pain, fatigue, hot flushes, nerve pain, chronic prostatitis, Parkison's disease, MS, acid reflex, IBS etc to achieve best treatment results. 

My devotion and skills are highly praised by my patients. 

My eBooks

Know your ovary to get pregnant
Know fertility and acupuncture to get pregnant
Vulvodynia, is vulval pain in your mind
Energy fatigue and acupuncture
Headaches, Neck pain and shoulder pain

Monday, 8 December 2014

Infertility caused by tube blockage with acupuncture treatment

Fallopian tubes which are the pathway where eggs travel to the uterus are very important for normal fertility. They play a key role in picking up eggs and transporting eggs, sperm and embryo. The fallopian tubes are the places where eggs are fertilised. Fallopian tubes are vulnerable to infection and surgical damage. This may affect tube function and cause infertility. If the tubes are blocked, this will cause infertility. Falllopian tube obstructions are the most common cause of female infertility, accounting for 30%-40% of cases.

Causes of tubal infertility: Pelvic infection is a major cause of tubal infertility. Infective tubal damage can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases, for example Chlamydia trachomatis accounts for half of the cases of acute inflammatory pelvic infections in developed countries. Tubal damage can also occur after miscarriage, termination of pregnancy, puerperal sepsis, or insertion of an intrauterine contraceptive device. Pelvic endometriosis rarely causes complete tubal occlusion. Endometriosis associated adhesions likely cause tubal distortion. Previous laparotomy is a risk factor for tubal infertility. In addition, ectopic pregnancy and uterine fibroids can also damage the tubes.

Tube obstruction may occur at any part along the course of the tube. Tube occlusions may be caused by tube spasm, infection and surgery. Tube spasm likely occurs in the proximal and middle part of the tubes. Distal part of the tube (which is close to the ovary) occlusion is likely caused by pelvic infection. If your tubes were damaged, the body healing procedure will be initiated automatically in order to repair the damage. If you have a wound in your hand, you can see the repairing process clearly which is inflammatory process. The body was trying to repair and regenerate to heal the wound. There was a similar process going on if your tubes were damaged.

Patients with tubal infertility have reduced chance of natural conception, depending on the extent of tube damage. Transcervical cannulation is good option for proximal tube occlusion. Other surgical procedures could be another option. The disadvantage of surgery is that it can cause scar tissue and adhesion. The tubes may become blocked again, cause new pelvic infections and risk for ectopic pregnancy.

Apart from surgical treatment option, acupuncture is a good choice that can be very effective without causing additional scars and infection. Acupuncture increases reproductive system blood flow, reduces inflammation; as a result, it releases tube spasms, reduces scar tissues and helps healing process. This may get blocked tubes open again. There were a few case reports in Chinese that tubal infertility with acupuncture treatment, pregnancy rate was up to 72%.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Endometriosis associated infertility with acupuncture treatment

Women’s uterus wall has three layers: inner layer is called endometrium; middle layer is smooth muscle; outer layer is myometrium. Endometrium of uterus is special. It undergoes cyclic change and regeneration. During the period cycle, this layer grows thicker and is full of blood vessels and glands. It provides best hospitable environment for implantation of a fertilised egg. If pregnancy does not occur, the inner layer will shed away causing bleeding and the layer will redevelop. Sometimes, if things go wrong, the endometrial tissue can grow outside of uterus. This is a condition called endometriosis. The most common places where this tissue was mislaid are ovaries, fallopian tubes and the pelvic cavity. This misplaced tissue is also responding women’s period cycles, but it could not shed. As a result it will cause inflammation, scar and adhesion. Endometriosis could present chronic pelvic pain including period pain, and intercourse pain, irregular period and associated with infertility.

Endometriosis affects up to 10% of reproductive age of women. Endometriosis is associated with infertility. At least one third of women with endometriosis have infertility. Women with infertility are 6-8 times more likely to have endometriosis. Some women with endometriosis will conceive without difficulty, while others may have difficulty to conceive. Some controlled trial study showed that women with endometriosis were 10% less likely to conceive than those without the condition. The pregnancy success rate among women with endometriosis associated infertility was lower than those with unexplained infertility. A study of 14 randomised controlled trials showed that women with endometriosis were less likely than women with tubal-factor infertility to conceive by means of IVF. Endometriosis is also associated to lower live birth rate.

The mechanisms of association between endometriosis and infertility are not fully understood. Moderate to severe cases can lead to infertility. The connection between severe endometriosis and infertility is due to severe pelvic adhesions which cause a variety of anatomical abnormalities. This can affect ovum capture and transport. The severe ectopic endometrial lesions is also decreasing implantation rates, decreasing egg retrieval rates and decreasing pregnancy rates.

Most of endometriosis cases are mild. Some women with mild endometriosis have also had infertility and many women with infertility have had mild endometriosis. The cause and effect relationships between mild endometriosis and infertility are not clear. Severe endometriosis can cause reproductive organs scarring and distortion. The association of minimal and mild endometriosis with infertility is also possible. This is because endometriosis causes ovulatory dysfunction, impaired follicle development, defective implantation, eutopic endometrium abnormalities, abnormal immunological environment and luteal phase problems. Luiz Fernando et al collected the data from 1985 -2011 to investigate the association between mild endometriosis and infertility. They found there were two randomized controlled trials for this study. In 1997 Marcoux et al conduceted a randomized controlled trial studied the association between endometriosis and pregnancy rates. They compared pregnancy rates in 172 women with stage I and II endometriosis who underwent laparoscopic removing all visible endometrial lesions with 169 women who underwent diagnostic laparoscopy only. All women were followed postoperatively for 36 weeks. The cumulative pregnancy probability rate for the surgery group was 30.7% while pregnancy rate for the diagnostic group was 17.7%. This result showed significant differences between two groups indicating the association of mild endometriosis and infertility. This suggestion was supported by another study. The conclusion is that minimal to mild stages of endometriosis plays an important role related to infertility and has negative impact on pregnancy rate.

In summary, the association between endometriosis and infertility may be caused a few mechanisms.

Distorted pelvic anatomy: endometriosis could cause pelvic adhesions. These organs can adhere to the uterus, bowel or pelvic wall. This distortion of reproductive organs could cause infertility. if the eggs in the ovaries are damaged by the misplaced tissues egg quantity and quality could be compromised which results ovulation abnormalities which can impair egg release from the ovary and egg pickup after being released; The tubes can be damaged and blocked; ovaries can contain cysts formed from misplaced tissue it also can block sperm entry into the distal tube.

Altered peritoneal environment: Also Altered peritoneal function and impaired endometrium and implantation are also contributing to the infertility. women with endometriosis have increased volume of peritoneal fluid, increased immune cells and concentrations of prostaglandin etc. These may impair egg, sperm, embryo and fallopian tube function.

Altered system immune function: women with endometriosis may have increased antibodies and lymphocytes and this may alter endometrial acceptance to embryo implantation.

Endocrine and ovulatory abnormalities: Women with endometriosis may also present abnormal follicle growth, the luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome, luteal phase dysfunction and premature and multiple LH surges.

Abnormal tubal function: egg capture inhibitor was reported present in peritoneal fluid from women with endometriosis.

Abnormal fertilization and implantation: fertilization and implantation may be impaired in women with endometriosis. Endometrial function may be not normal.

Medications could improve the quality of life for many women with endometriosis; however their contraceptive effects are limited their application. There were many researches showing that acupuncture is effective of releasing pain associated with endometriosis. Acupuncture also stops misplaced tissue growing, regulates period and improves fertility. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, endometriosis is caused by blood stagnation. Acupuncture improves blood flow; this will release the pain and improve other symptoms.

There was a case report about acupuncture treatment for endometriosis associated infertility from China. 25 patients with endometriosis associated with infertility were treated with acupuncture. After 2 months of treatment, 9 patients achieved pregnancy.

A report in Zhong Guo Zhen Jiu (1996) also studied effectiveness of acupuncture on endometriosis associated with infertility. There were 72 women with endometriosis associated with infertility involved. The acupuncture treatment duration is 3-9 month. 42 women achieved pregnancy. Success rate was 58.33%.

References
Zhou et al (2009) Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med 6: 494-517
http://www.cnki.com.cn/Article/CJFDTotal-ZGZE602.020.htm
Luiz Fernando et al Rev Assoc Med Bras (2012) 58:607-614

Friday, 7 November 2014

Inflammation plays a role in infertility and acupuncture treatment

Inflammation is a basic reaction that our body responds to infection, irritation or other injury. Inflammation is a complex biological response of vascular tissue to harmful stimuli. Without inflammation, wound and infection would never heal. Inflammation is a defence and has two aspects of effects: beneficial and harmful. If our body suffered from infection or injury, the defence system tend to remove harmful stimuli, initiating healing process for repair and regeneration. This is beneficial effect. The process of acute inflammation is initiated by local blood vessels with related chemicals accumulated into tissue. Increased blood flow causes characteristic swelling, redness and heat. As a consequence, vasodilation and increased permeability cause slowing of blood flow. Inflammation could stimulates nerves causing pain. It also could damage organs and their function if the inflammation is too strong which is harmful. Inflammation has a significant role in gynecology and infertility, affecting the ovary, uterus as well as the embryo and implantation.

Inflammation is present in women’s reproductive system physiology. There is temporary changes reflected inflammation process observed in ovary during follicular development, ovulation and luteal formation. Immune cells accumulate in the inner lining of uterus during the secretary phase of the menstrual cycle indicating inflammation involved in the endometrial cycles in uterus. Recent research found that a special protein which can inhibits immune cell function and has local anti-inflammatory effect prevented immune attack to embryo and created a local hospitable environment in uterus in early pregnancy without compromising maternal system immune function. Inflammation plays an important role in implantation as well.

Inflammation is involved in infertility. There are two major types of problems that account for most of women’s infertility: anatomic abnormality and ovulatory problems. Most anatomic abnormalities such as tube blockage that cause infertility are acquired. Infection, inflammation, ischemia and surgical injury may be the causes. Anatomic abnormalities may be asymptomatic or may be presenting pelvic pain, pelvic adhesions and infertility. Inflammation causes tissue damage and distortion. The most significant cause of inflammatory infertility is Chlamydia trachomatis infection that may result in infertility in 10-30% of infertile couples in developed countries. Inflammation causes ovulatory abnormalities. Premature ovarian failure (POF) is a typical example of the relationship between ovulatory infertility and inflammation. The incidence of POF is 1% of women under the age of 40. About 50% of POF cases have attributed to immune problems which are involved in inflammation. Antiovarian antibodies have been found in some of these cases and accumulation of immune cells in ovaries has been noted as well. Women with endometriosis are also responding to inflammation differently from those women without endometriosis. There are increased immune cells and antibodies against inner lining of uterus.

Acupuncture reduces inflammation to improve fertility. Inflammation is present in infertility. This was noted in ancient Chinese Medicine. The phenomena were explained that dampness and heat accumulate and blood stagnates in pelvis. This blocks meridian and stops energy flow causing infertility. Acupuncture treating infertility has a long history, but the effect of acupuncture is doubted because it relies on concept of changing the flow of energy on meridian which is not accepted by evidence based medicine. Recently researchers provided evidence that needles insertion into the skin and deeper tissues results in a particular pattern of afferent activity in peripheral nerves. This improves blood circulation of ovaries and uterus etc. As a result it reduces local inflammation and improves infertility.

In men, infection and inflammation of the reproductive tract including testes are widely accepted as important factors of male infertility. Inflammation is associated with disruption of testicular function leading to low sperm count and low quality of sperms. Acupuncture improves sperm count and quality of sperms. This is because acupuncture increased blood supply of testicular artery and acupuncture stimulated immune response and reduced inflammation.

References
Weiss G et al Reprod Sci (2009) 16: 216-229

Friday, 19 September 2014

How to boost male fertility?

Sperm tests

If you have been trying for conceiving for long time without success, the semen should be tested to check if sperm are good. Sperm are tested by semen analysis. What is semen? Semen is the thick, white fluid released during ejaculation which comes from three sources: the vas deferences, the seminal vesicles and prostate. This liquid protects sperm cells which are comprised in semen. What are sperm cells like? Sperm cells are unique. They have head, neck and tail. The sperm head is oval shape containing highly compact DNA and enzymes required for penetrating egg shell for fertilization. The tail is responsible for sperm movement. Head and tail is connected by neck. Sperm parameters include sperm count over 20 million per ml or more. Over 50% of sperm should show normal forward movement 1 hour after collection. Over 30% of sperms should be in normal shape. Total semen volume is 1.5 ml to 6 ml. Normal semen pH range from 7.2-7.8. Liquefaction time is 20-30 min after collection. There are no white blood cells or bacteria in the semen.

Do you know that semen quality is related to life expectancy?

Semen quality is known to be a marker of fertility, and a sperm concentration of up to 40 million/mL has been found to increase the probability of conception in a menstrual cycle. Is there association between semen quality and long-term health effects? The Copenhagen Sperm Analysis Laboratory analysed semen samples from 51543 men between 1963-2001 and they found that mortality decreased as the sperm concentration increased up to a threshold of 40 million/mL and no further decrease in mortality above the threshold. Mortality decreased as the percentages of motile and morphologically normal spermatozoa increased in a dose-response manner. They suggested that good semen quality may be a more general biomarker of overall health.

Which hormones are involved in sperm production?

Sperm production is hormonally driven. There are four hormones involved in sperm production: gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone. GnRH is produced in hypothalamus and acts on pituitary gland stimulating FSH and LH releasing. FSH is produced in pituitary gland (a part of the brain) and acts on testis stimulating sperm production. LH is also produced in pituitary gland and acts on testis stimulating testosterone production. Testosterone is produced in the testis and it supports sperm production. Without testosterone sperm will not develop and the matured sperm will not be released.

How to boost male fertility?

Male fertility can be reduced by stress. The stress includes emotional, physical and financial. Stress level will increase from frequent travelling, a long illness, long working hours and major life changes. How to get rid of stress? Many things can help reduce stress to help your body relax. For example, exercise, massage or of course acupuncture on a regular basis. Other some simple things are also help reduce stress such as eating well, sleeping well, stop of smoking and stop of drinking alcohol, reducing coffee consumption, losing some weight if you are overweight, avoid hot bath etc.

Keeping good nutrition and balanced diet is the best way to improve male fertility. Whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables and plenty of nuts, low fat and low sugar help improving male fertility. Don’t forget acupuncture increases sperm count.

What food and supplements are good to boost male fertility?

One in six couples have difficulty to conceive. Male factors contribute half of the cases. To boost male fertility, some food and supplements can help based on recent research.

Organic food: it is better to go for organic or hormone free food and avoid hormone containing diary products and meats. Synthetic estrogens are widely used in the livestock, poultry, and dairy industries. The synthetic estrogen, diethylstilbestrol (DES), affects male fertility. For example, DES was prescribed from 1945 to 1971 to millions of women during pregnancy. Male offspring from those women had a higher incidence of developmental problems of the reproductive tract, as well as diminished sperm volume and sperm count. Exogenous estrogens impact fetal development by inhibiting the development of Sertoli cells, which determine the lifelong capacity for sperm production. Circulating estrogens also inhibit enzymes involved in testosterone synthesis and may directly affect testosterone production.

Omega-3: A study with two hundred thirty-eight infertile men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratospermia investigated the effect of omega-3 on fertility. A 32 weeks treatment has shown significant improvement of sperm cell total count and sperm cell concentration in the omega-3 group suggesting the benefit of omega 3 on male fertility.

Zinc: Zinc is essential for normal functioning of the male reproductive system. Enough zinc intake ensures proper sperm motility and production. Zinc deficiency is associated with decreased testosterone levels and sperm count. There was a trend observed for a lower Zn levels in seminal plasma of smokers compared with nonsmokers. Seminal Zn in fertile and infertile (smokers or nonsmokers) males correlated significantly with sperm count and normal morphology of sperm. Poor Zn nutrition may be an important risk factor for low quality of sperm and idiopathic male infertility. Zinc levels are generally lower in infertile men with diminished sperm count. Studies have found supplemental zinc may prove helpful in treating male infertility. Some studies have suggested that male patients with infertility given zinc treatment significantly increased testosterone levels and sperm count, sperm motility and normal sperm morphology.

Vitamin C: Lower levels of vitamin C may lead to infertility and increased damage to the sperm’s genetic material. Study has suggested that reducing vitamin C intake in healthy men increased sperm DNA damage.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant and has been shown to inhibit freeradical-induced damage to sensitive cell membranes. It improved sperm motility and improved sperm function in the zona binding assay, therefore enhancing the ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg in vitro.

Glutathione/Selenium: Glutathione and selenium are essential to the formation of an enzyme present in spermatids which becomes a structural protein in mature sperm. Deficiency of these two could damage sperm motility.

Coenzyme Q-10: Recent data from patients with idiopathic asthenozoospermia has shown that CoQ10 improves sperm counts and motility.

Vitamin B12: Deficiency of Vitamin B12 has been associated with decreased sperm count and motility.

Keep scrotum cool, if you want to get pregnant

Sperm is produced in testis located in scrotum attached to the body. In this place testis could be kept in low temperature( a few degrees lower than body temperature) which is required for sperm production. This is vital for sperm production in male. If anything elevates the temperature, it could damage sperm production.

If you want to get pregnant, you need to keep the scrotum cool. The question is how? There are some approaches you could take:

1, Wear a loose underwear to keep scrotum away from your body to avoid body heat.

2, Keep laptop away from your thigh to avoid heating up scrotum.

3, Stop riding bycycles to avoid heating up scrotum.

4, Treat varicocele veins to speed up blood circulation to maintain low temperature.

5, Lose weight to reduce excessive fat which warms up testis.

6, Acupuncture can relax scrotal muscles and improve blood circulation to keep temperature down.

Exercises affect sperm count

Physical activity has benefits for human’s general health however its association with male fertility remains unclear. Some researchers have proposed strenuous exercise as a risk factor for male factor infertility because it has been seen there was a reduced semen quality in long-distance runners and endurance cyclists. A recent research from Harvard School of Public Health studied if paternal physical activity associated with semen quality parameters and with outcomes of infertility treatment. In this study, most physical activity was moderate and heavy outdoor activities (38%), followed by running and jogging (24%), weightlifting (16%), bicycling (16%), swimming laps (3%), playing tennis or squash (2%) and aerobics (1%). They found that higher sperm count is related to higher levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity while sperm motility (total and progressive) and morphology were not related to physical activity. They also studied whether specific physical activities were associated with sperm concentration. Men in the highest category of outdoor activity (≥1.5 h/week) and weightlifting (≥2 h/week) had higher sperm concentrations than men with 0 h/week. Bicycling, in contrast, was inversely associated with sperm concentrations. Men who reported bicycling ≥1.5 h/week had lower sperm concentration compared with men who reported no bicycling. Time spent walking, running, jogging or in other specific physical or sedentary activities was not associated with sperm concentration. They also studied the relationship of paternal physical and sedentary activities with outcomes of infertility treatment. They did not find an association between time spent in moderate-to-vigorous or sedentary activities and clinical pregnancy or live birth rates following IUI or ART.

Some modern techniques might decrease your sperm quality

Exposure to radiation, both ionizing and nonionizing, has been shown to be a hormone disruptor. People may not realize that when you are using modern techniques, you are exposed to radiation significantly. Study on cell line has shown that exposure to mobile phone radiation altered gene and protein expression in cell lines. In a recent study, patients who used a cell phone showed significantly higher free testosterone and lower LH levels than those who did not, and sperm quality was negatively affected. A review has suggested that the use of mobile phones may decrease sperm concentration, motility (particularly rapid progressive motility), normal morphology, and viability. The abnormalities seemed to be directly related to the duration of mobile phone use. However, present evidence is inconclusive.

Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality

Mobile phones produce radiation which may affect male fertility. Another study has shown that donor normozoospermic samples, which were exposed for four hours to a wireless internetconnected laptop showed a significant decrease in progressive sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation. The researchers advised against locating a laptop near the testes. There was a study from the UK has investigated that the effect of mobile phones on sperm quality. In this study, the participants were 1492 from fertility clinic and research centers. There were ten studies included. The findings were exposure to mobile phones was associated with reduced sperm motility and viability. The results from in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that mobile phone exposure negatively affects sperm quality.

Get sperm quality improved before IVF/ICSI

In about 50% of cases, male factors play a role in a couple's infertility. Medical science still has problems determining when and whether a sperm problem is the primary or contributing cause for problems with fertility. Lifestyle, environmental, and psychological factors may affect sperm quantity and quality. A recent study involved in 3106 couples showed that high-level sperm DNA fragmentation has a detrimental effect on outcome of IVF/ICSI, with decreased pregnancy rate and increased miscarriage rate. This study indicated that high sperm DNA damage was related to lower pregnancy rates in IVF but not in ICSI cycles, whereas it was associated with higher miscarriage rates in both IVF and ICSI cycles. It is suggested that before clinical high tech clinical treatments start, changes in lifestyle and environmental and psychological factors in male would improve male fertility, such as stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, avoiding hot bath and cycling, reducing stress, losing weight et al. Acupuncture can help with improving sperm quantity and quality and reducing stress.

Chronic prostatitis and male infertility

Chronic prostatitis is a very common disease in the male genitourinary system. Some research has shown that chronic prostatitis was linked to male fertility. It was reported that chronic prostatitis was associated reduced sperm production and impairment of semen quality and sperm morphology and motility. Also very recently it was found that men with prostatitis and varicocele had significantly higher DNA fragmentation compared with men in the control group. There was a negative impact of these diseases on the concentration and the percentage of motile sperm cells in the ejaculate. Prostate secretion meets sperm cells during ejaculation and the sperm damage could occur in the short time during ejaculation. Or a direct effect of inflammation on the testis and epididymis could contribute to the damage.

Does prostate abnormality induce antisperm antibody?

There are three major prostate abnormalities namely, prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. . In all these abnormalities, infection/inflammation has been involved. As infection/inflammation of the male genital tract can also be involved in production of antisperm antibodies (ASA), Does prostate abnormality induce ASA. There was a study with healthy man and man with prostatis, BPH and prostate cance. They found that chronic prostatitis, BPH and prostate cancer do not induce antibodies to spermatozoa, sperm-specific antigens and seminal plasma components.

Acupuncture can help with prostatitis by improving the local blood flow and reducing inflammation. As a result, it could improve the fertility.

References
Adams JA et al Environ Int (2014) 70:106-12
Jensen TK et al Am. J. Epidemiol. (2009) 170:559-565.
Daniel M Campagne Int J Fertil Steril (2013) 6:214-223
Safarinejad MR Andrologia (2011) 43:38-47
Balercia G J Endocrinol Invest (2009) 32:626-32
Colagar AH et al Nutr Res (2009) 29:82-8
Gaskins AJ et al Hum Reprod (2014) Aug 27
Zhao J et al Fertil Steril (2014) 102:998-1005
Osadchuk LV et al Urologiia (2014 3:37-43
Hoover and Naz Int J Androl (2012) 35:608-15
Sinclair S Altern Med Rev (2000) 5:28-38


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Acupuncture helps with osteoporosis

Bone density starts losing from about 35 years of age. Women lose bone rapidly in the first few years after the menopause. Losing bone is a normal part of the ageing process, but for some people it can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures. Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. This is a common condition that affects around three million people in the UK. More than 300,000 people receive hospital treatment for fragility fractures every year as a result of osteoporosis. The most common type of breaks that affect people with osteoporosis is wrist fracture, hip fracture and fracture in the bones in the spine. Osteoporosis is commonly no sign until a bone is fractured after a minor falls.

Do you know that acupuncture can help improving osteoporosis and increasing bone density? A research study has shown that 12 weeks acupuncture plus tuina regulate the lumbar biomechanical structure through the positive stress stimulation and reconstruct the mechanical equilibrium of the lumbar vertebra. This study suggested that acupuncture plays the active significance in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Other studies have shown that the bone mineral density of lumbar vertebrae and femur in acupuncture treatment group increased obviously than that before treatment in men and in post menopausal women. The mechanism is that acupuncture increases circulation and improves bone mineral density.

References
Wang et al Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2012) 32:685-8
Qu-Yang G et al Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2011) 31:23-5
Qu-Yang G et al J Tradit Chin Med (2002) 22:9-11

Monday, 8 September 2014

Acupuncture is effective on dysfunctional uterine bleeding and restoring ovulation

As we all know, women have menstrual cycles which occurs as a result of cyclic hormonal changes are usually 21-40 days long, with bleeding duration of 3-7 days and an average blood loss of 20-80 ml. Many women experience some kind of menstrual cycle disturbance; this could be minor disorders or a sign of malignant diseases. Malignant endometrial and cervical disorders include endometrial carcinoma, endometrial heperplasia, cervical cancer and cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia which could present abnormal uterine bleeding.

If a woman is pregnant, vaginal bleeding is abnormal. This often occurs in early pregnancy and is often associated with miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is one of the most severe pregnancy related conditions in women with abnormal uterine bleeding. Threatened miscarriage and miscarriage also present abnormal uterine bleeding.

Benign endometrial and cervical diseases: Fibroids is benign smooth muscle tumors in uterus which is either asymptomatic or presenting abnormal uterine bleeding. Endometrial polyps are a significant cause.

More frequent vaginal bleeding could be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease which is caused by sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia or gonorrhoea. This causes inflammation in the uterus. Endometriosis can also cause more frequent vaginal bleeding. Polycystic ovary syndrome is also the underline causes of abnormal uterine bleeding. Irregular interval of vaginal bleeding could be caused by oral contraceptive pills and perimenopause.

Abnormality presents as duration, interval and amount of the bleeding, if a woman is not pregnant and ovulates regularly.

Very heavy vaginal bleeding: This could be caused by benign conditions including uterine fibroids, endometrial polyps, adenomyosis, intrauterine devices, hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disorders, blood clotting disorders and medications disturbing blood clotting.

Lighter vaginal bleeding could be caused by hyperthoroidism, oral contraceptive pills.

Bleeding between periods could be caused by contraceptive pills, intrauterine device, psychological stress and anticoagulant medications.

If a woman does not ovulate reduction of periods or period blood flow could be seen in some conditions, such as, some chronic conditions and physical and psychological stress, hypothalamus dysfunction, anorexia nervosa, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Majority of women with abnormal uterine bleeding do not have structural and histological abnormalities fortunately. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is not due to certain pelvic disease, complications of pregnancy or systemic illness but mostly related to hormonal dysfunction. These affect 30% of women in reproductive age. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is a common condition in women in reproductive age. This could be caused by psychological and/or physical stress, malnutrition, or systematic disorders which affect hypathalumic-pituitary-ovarian axis. They present with heavy abnormal uterine bleeding patterns: longer bleeding days, heavy blood loss, more frequent period cycles. In such cases, it is likely associated with aovulations. Changes of normal menstrual cycles are normally caused by disturbances of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis. Most cases of anovulatory bleeding are caused by estrogen withdrawal or estrogen breakthrough bleeding. This could present midcycle spotting or intermittent spotting. This also could present irregular or prolonged heavy bleeding. In the case of no ovulation, the uterine endometrium at the presence of estrogen stimulation reaches abnormal heights and lacks structural support and it becomes fragile. The fragile endometrium breaks down and bleeding occurs. The fundamental issue in anovulatory bleeding is that the ovary does not function well causing hormonal imbalance. If a woman with anovulatory bleeding is trying to conceive, she would have difficulty to get pregnant because of anovulation. Improving ovary function is the key to treat anovulatory bleeding.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dysfunctional uterine bleeding can be divided into three types

1. Spleen and kidney yang deficiency, the symptoms include prolonged uterine bleeding, heavy periods, light red without clot, excessive vaginal discharge, tireness, lower back pain, feeling cold, cold hands and feet, diarrhoea, swelling tongue with light white coating, and week and sink pulse.

2. liver and kidney yin deficiency, the symptoms include irregular periods, prolonged uterine bleeding, red blood, dizziness tinnitus, lower backpain, dry mouth, red tongue, week and sink pulse.

3. kidney deficiency and liver stagnation, the symptoms include irregular periods, breast pain, lower back pain, lower tummy pain, excessive vaginal discharge, light tongue and week and sink pulse.

Apart from medication and surgery treatments, acupuncture is an effective treatment for dysfunctional uterine bleeding

Acupuncture could stimulate nerve end to improve ovarian blood circulation. This could improve ovarian function, restore hormonal balance and ovulation and stop abnormal vaginal bleeding and improve fertility.

Zeng et al conducted a controlled trial to investigate effectiveness of acupuncture on dysfunctional uterine bleeding. It was involved in 252 patients. These patients were divided into three groups acupuncture group, Chinese medicine group and conventional medicine group with 84 patients in each group. The result showed that acupuncture has the best effect compared with Chinese medicine and conventional medicine groups. Dr Cheng reported 90 cases of dysfunctional uterine bleeding treated with acupuncture or acupuncture and moxbustion. These women were aged between 16-46, most of them were 25-35. Uterine bleeding days were from 9 days to 65 days. They found that acupuncture and moxibustion are effective treatments for women with dysfunctional uterine bleeding.

References
http://www.acumoxj.com/readlist.asp?id=383
Hickey M et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4):CD001895.
http://journal.9med.net/html/qikan/zxyjh/zhzxyzz/20047514/zyzy/20080903023004133_2488.html
http://www.cqvip.com/QK/92077A/200404/9576315.html

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Acupuncture can help with plantar fasciitis (heel pain)

Heel pain is very common. The pain is in intense when using the affected heel and placing weight on the heel. Heel pain usually comes up gradually and gets worse over time. The pain is usually worse first thing in the morning, or when you first take a step after a period of inactivity. Walking usually improves the pain, but it often gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time. Some people may limp when they try to avoid placing weight on the affected heel. Most common condition causing heel pain is the plantar fasciitis I which the plantar fascia, a band of tissue under the sole of the foot becomes damaged and thickens. Sudden damage, or damage that occurs over many months or years, can cause tiny tears to develop inside the tissue of the plantar fascia. This can cause the plantar fascia to thicken, resulting in heel pain.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common injury of the plantar fascia and is the most common cause of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis can be painful. The pain of plantar fasciitis has unique characteristics -- pain upon rising, improvement after walking for several minutes, pain produced by pressure applied in a specific location on your foot but not with pressure in other areas. It is associated with long standing. The main symptom is sharp heel pain which is worsen by bearing weight on the heel after long periods of rest for example after getting out of bed or after prolonged periods of sitting. After continuing walk, the pain symptoms is improved. There may be other symptoms accompanied the pain such as numbnesss, tingling, swelling or radiating pain.

Acupuncture can be used to treat heel pain effectively. Some high quality studies report significant benefits of acupuncture. Acupuncture was associated with significant improvement in pain and function.

A study investigated effectiveness of acupuncture for patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. Acupuncture coupled with conventional treatments provided a success rate of 80% in chronic planar fasciitis which was more effective than conventional treatments alone (13%). The effects lasted for at least six weeks follow-up.

There are some other clinical evidences by recent research on this aspect. There is a study which investigated the efficacy of electro-acupuncture coupled with conventional treatments and compared it with the efficacy of conventional treatments alone in patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. Subjects in the control group received five weeks of conventional treatments, including stretching exercise, shoe modification and rescue analgesics. Subjects in the acupuncture group received the same treatments plus ten sessions of electro-acupuncture twice weekly. At the end of treatment, pain score decreased significantly in the acupuncture group compared with and control group. At the sixth week follow-up, subjects in the acupuncture group showed a better foot function index and success rate for pain during the day than those in the control group. Electro-acupuncture coupled with conventional treatments provided a success rate of 80% in chronic planar fasciitis which was more effective than conventional treatments alone. The effects lasted for at least six weeks. Another study also compared the effect of acupuncture with that of conventional treatment including treatment with ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and a stretching and a strengthening program. They also found acupuncture had better effects than those conventional treatment and they suggested that acupuncture should be considered as a major therapeutic instrument for the decrease of heel pain, combined with traditional medical approaches.There was a study compared effect of miniscalpel-needle (MSN) ( a special type of acupuncture) with steroid injection for the treatment for plantar fasciitis. Their results showed that visual analog scale scores for morning pain, active pain, and overall heel pain all were decreased significantly in the MSN group from 1 to 12 months after treatment. In contrast, treatment with steroid injection showed a significant effect only at the 1-month follow-up but not at 6 or 12 months after treatment. Moreover, the MSN group achieved more rapid and sustained improvements than the steroid group throughout the duration of this study. No severe side effects were observed with MSN treatment. Their data suggest that the MSN release treatment is safe and has a significant benefit for plantar fasciitis compared to steroid injection.

Reference
Clark & Tighe Acupunct Med (2012) 30:298-306
Kumnerddee and Pattapong Am J Chin Med (2012) 40:1167-76
Kemnerddee W and Pattapong N Am J Chin Med (2012) 40:1167-76
Karagounis et al PFoot Ankle Spec (2011) 4:226-34
Li S et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med (2014) 2014:164714

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Acupuncture in Peking University

Peking University was founded in 1898. Originally known as the Imperial University of Peking, it was the first national university covering comprehensive disciplines in China, and has been a leading institution of higher education in China since its establishment. It also served as the highest administration for education at the beginning of its founding.

In 2000 Beijing Medical University which becomes Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC) was merged with Peking University.

PUHSC has built a unique campus culture that advocates diligence, rigor, objectivity and creativity. And the faculty and graduates of PUHSC are known for their devotion to the country and to the health profession. Its highest goal is to create an internationally recognized medical institute of excellence and to offer first-class medical education for the health of all human beings.

Acupuncture in PUHSC.

On March 27th 2014, the award ceremony of The Second Cheung On Tak International Award for Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Medicine was held in Hong Kong Baptist University. Professor Han Jisheng, member of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Peking University was presented with this honor.

As the winner of the award this year, Professor Han Jisheng attended the ceremony and delivered a speech on his research and experience in acupuncture. He has been devoted to this field for decades since 1965 and made great progress capturing worldwide attention. In his speech, Professor Han also reviewed the national policy on integrative Chinese and western medical study of acupuncture. Besides, he envisioned the application of acupuncture and put forward his advice to promote the therapy worldwide. He expressed his gratitude to the cooperative colleagues and students in Neurosciences Institute of Health Science Center, Peking University.

Since 1965 Professor Han Jisheng started his research on acupuncture mechamisms especially its analgesic effects. His devotion to explore the neurochemical basis of acupuncture analgesia has resulted in findings that have deservingly received worldwide recognition. Professor Han became the first to discover the spatio-temporal character of the analgesic effect triggered by acupuncture at a certain point by systemic observation in healthy human body. He put great efforts on putting forward pain research leading to recognition of acupuncture therapy as an applicable methods in many countries. In 1997, the US National Institute of Health (NIH) invited Professor Han to give a lecture on the Consensus Conference on Acupuncture sponsored by NIH. Based on his and others’ data presented, NIH Consensus Conference confirmed the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain treatment and acknowledged its great potential for future development. The Austrian Acupuncture Society also expressed their appreciation to Professor Han for his research and works that led the Austrian government to accept acupuncture as an official pain therapy.

References
Albert Cheung Hoi Yu Neurochem Res (2008) 33:1911–1914
http://english.pku.edu.cn/News_Events/News/Focus/11205.htm

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Why live with pain? acupuncture helps to have pain free.

Acupuncture is an effective treatment for chronic pain conditions

Acupuncture is called ancient art and has been used in Asia for centuries to treat many conditions and relieve pain. It is now being recognised in western countries, such as USA and European countries. It is used to ease back pain, nerve pain and other pain conditions.

If a pain last over 3 month, it is chronic. Chronic pain is a common condition. It can occur in many places such as low back pain, neck pain, headache, migraine and knee pain. Chronic pain in the muscles and joints can make life miserable. Many simple treatments like ice and heat, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and appropriate exercises can often ease the pain. If these methods don’t work, not everyone is able or willing to take pain medication every day, and not everyone can or should have surgery for painful conditions.

Chronic pain is very common and difficult to manage. Apart from pain killers, acupuncture is well accepted to treat chronic pain conditions. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) plays an important role to reduce pain and improve quality of life for those who suffer from chronic pain. A survey by MG Tan et al from Singapore studied the use of CAM in chronic pain patients in Singapore. They found that 84% of patients used CAM at some point of their life. 30% of patients used CAM for other reasons instead of chronic pain. 35% of patients used for both pain and non pain conditions. Acupuncture was the most utilised which is 49%, followed by Chinese herbs (18%), Tui Na (17%) and massage (16%). Many patients were on more than one form of the CAM. 72% patients thought that CAM helped with their pain. 26% patients used CAM because conventional medicine did not work. 38% thought it was safer and had fewer side effects. 24% of patients thought it was cheaper. 85% of patients were satisfied. Many patients did not discuss the use of CAM with their doctor, mainly because they thought that CAM is more natural and safe.

Acupuncture has little side effects and well tolerated. A survey from people accepted acupuncture treatment has shown that 46% said acupuncture helped greatly, 26% said it helped in some degree and 28% said there was little help. Research showed that lower back pain is the most common reason for visiting acupuncturists. Usage of acupuncture has increased enormously in recent 10 years.

Recently, Mao et al reviewed clinical research of a few chronic pain condition treatments with acupuncture including lower back pain, knee pain, neck pain and headache. Low back pain is the most common reason for visits to acupuncturists. Recent 10 years, using high quality randomized controlled trials study acupuncture has increased enormously. Most of them have shown that acupuncture treatment is effective to lower back pain and it is better than no treatment or equivalent to other conventional treatments. The situation of knee pain with acupuncture treatment is pretty similar to lower back pain which is acupuncture is better than no treatment. For neck pain treatment with acupuncture some controlled trials suggested that acupuncture is better than or equivalent to physiotherapy. Some study suggested that acupuncture is better than massage and dry needling in motion-related neck pain. In a study on headache, it showed that acupuncture reduced headache frequency and severity, and at the same time it also improves headache related quality of life. There is a review about acupuncture for chronic pain by Vickers AJ et al just published in Arch Intern Med (2012). They analysed 29 clinical randomized controlled trials involving in 17922 patients to investigate the effect of acupuncture for 4 chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache and shoulder pain. In the primary analysis, including all eligible trials, acupuncture was superior for both sham and no acupuncture control for each pain condition. After exclusion of an outlying set of trials that strongly favoured acupuncture, the effect sizes were similar across pain conditions analysed. Patients receiving acupuncture had less pain. They concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and it is more than a placebo. Acupuncture is clearly a treatment option.

It becomes general knowledge that acupuncture releases pain effectively. However the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain relief is still coming up for debate and there are always some clinical trials showing lack of effect compared with control. What is the reason for this? Macpherson et al analysed clinical trials involving patients with headache and migraine, osteoarthritis, and back, neck and shoulder pain. There were many different types of controls used in the trials including sham controls such as non-needle sham, penetrating sham needles and non-penetrating sham needles and non sham control such as non-specified routine care and protocol-guided care. They analysed the impact of choice of control on effect of acupuncture. They found that acupuncture was significantly superior to all categories of control group. For trials that used penetrating needles for sham control, acupuncture had smaller effect sizes than for trials with non-penetrating sham or sham control without needles. Large effects of acupuncture were seen after exclusion of outlying studies. In trials with non-sham controls, larger effect sizes associated with acupuncture vs. non-specified routine care than vs. protocol-guided care. From this study it can be seen that acupuncture is significantly superior to control irrespective of the subtype of control. Penetrating needles can have positive effects which should be avoided as a control in the study.

Recently a study analysed 29 clinical trials involved in 17922 patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture. This study suggested that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain including back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headache and acupuncture is a reasonable option. There is scientific evidence how acupuncture works. Many research suggested that acupuncture relives pain by affecting neurotransmitters, hormone levels, or the immune system.

What is important when using acupuncture to treat chronic pain

Many researches with huge sample sizes showed that acupuncture is effective to treat chronic pain. Acupuncture is not a standardized treatment method. If you see different acupuncturists, you would receive acupuncture with different characteristics for sure. There are different styles of acupuncture, Chinese acupuncture, Western acupuncture or mixed Chinese and Western acupuncture, which are based on different theories. Even for the same style of acupuncture, the duration and frequency of the treatments could be different performed by different acupuncturists. The points used could be different as well. Additional usage of electrostimulation or electroacupuncture, moxibustion or manipulation could be applied by some acupuncturists.

From research point of view, there is a great variation of acupuncture characteristics. MacPherson et al analysed the research trials for acupuncture effect on chronic pain. Majority of research trials (59%) was based on traditional Chinese acupuncture and majority of points (55%) selected were flexible. Most of the research trials are manually stimulated and only a few trials used electrical stimulation and a few trials added with moxibustion. Attempts to obtain de qi sensation were made in all 25 trials which provided this information. The maxium number of sessions varied broadly from 3 to 30 and duration of sessions also varied from 15-32 minutes. The needles or points used were range from 1-18 points. The frequency of treatment was from one session every eight days to two sessions a week.

Their results showed that when comparing acupuncture with sham acupuncture controls, there was little evidence that the effects of acupuncture on pain were modified by any of the acupuncture characteristics evaluated, including style of acupuncture, number or placement of needles, the number, frequency or duration of sessions, patient-practitioner interactions and experience of the acupuncturist. When comparing acupuncture to non-acupuncture controls, better pain outcomes were obtained when more needles were used and also when a higher number of acupuncture treatment sessions were provided. They conclude that there was little evidence that different characteristics of acupuncture or acupuncturists modified the effect of treatment on pain outcomes. Increased number of needles and more sessions are associated with better outcomes when comparing acupuncture to non acupuncture controls. They suggested that dose is the key factor.

There was a report that investigated the outcomes of acupuncture for chronic pain in urban primary care from New York. Patients selected for the acupuncture treatment were over 21 years old with chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis or neck or back pain. Acupuncture was provided by supervised acupuncture students for up to 14 weeks. Pain and function were evaluated before during and after acupuncture treatment. They found that back pain was the most common referring diagnosis 59.5% followed by osteoarthritis 16.3%. Pain severity and function significantly improved at 12 and 24 weeks after baseline assessment. They concluded that weekly acupuncture improved pain severity and quality of life.

Why can acupuncture be used to relive pain?

Acupuncture can act as a pain killer and it is used in many conditions and helps relieve pain. The mechanism is studied by modern research. Studies have shown that pressure pain threshold is increased after acupuncture treatment. The effect could be long-term and short-term. Studies have also shown that acupuncture reduced sensitivity to noxious thermal stimuli which could be mechanical (such as pinching or tissue deformation), chemical (such as exposure to acid or ittitant) or thermal (such as high or low temperature). Sensory threshold changes were equally frequent reported after manual acupuncture as after electroacupuncture. Acupuncture affects sensory perception. Results are most convincing for the pressure pain threshold, especially in pain conditions associated with tenderness.

Acupuncture is used for women with chronic pelvic pain

If you've had pelvic pain for six months or more that either comes and goes or is continuous, it is known as chronic pelvic pain (CPP). CPP is more intense than ordinary period pain and lasts for longer. It affects around one in six women. A research paper studied the prevalence of and factors associated with use of complementary health approaches mong women with CPP. The result has shown that slightly over one-half (51%) of women with CPP used at least one complementary health approach in the past year, including acupuncture (8%), special foods or diets (22%), herbs (27%), and vitamins and minerals (29%). During follow-up surveys conducted annually for 4 years, a substantial proportion of women (44.8%) used complementary health approaches at more than half of the assessments. Users of complementary health approaches were more likely to undergo a hysterectomy or oophorectomy or to use gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists or opioids during the study compared with nonusers. Women with CPP who used complementary health approaches also had more optimal health-related quality of life measured by the Pelvic Problem Impact Questionnaire.

Acupuncture is the best option for depression with pain problems

Up to about 70% patients with depression also have pain problems. Depression may make the pain problem worse and more pain may make depression worse as well. The existing research data has shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment option for several chronic pain conditions. Acupuncture is also suggested to treat depression, though this is not available option in NHS. Counselling for depression is widely available in primary care practices, however there is limited evidence for counselling compared to usual care as a treatment for patients with depression and a chronic physical health problem. Recently a report compared acupuncture or counselling with usual care alone for 755 patients with depression complicated with pain. They found that at 3 months, both acupuncture and counselling interventions were effective for depression compared to usual care alone whether there was pain or not. Patients in the pain group had greater reductions in both depression symptoms with acupuncture from baseline to 3 months than those who received counselling or usual care. All treatment options were effective in reducing pain between baseline and 3-month follow-up after controlling for baseline pain, however, acupuncture delivered a greater degree of pain relief than counselling or usual care in the short-to-medium term. Reductions in both depression and pain were most marked in the acupuncture group, followed by the counselling group and then the usual care group.

Acupuncture is effective for muscle pain

Muscle pains are common and can involve more than one muscle. Muscle pain also can involve ligaments, tendons, and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones, and organs. Muscle pain is most frequently related to tension, overuse, or muscle injury from exercise or physically-demanding work. In these situations, the pain tends to involve specific muscles and starts during or just after the activity. It is usually obvious which activity is causing the pain. Trapezius muscle is a large superficial muscle that extends longitudinally from the skull to the upper back and laterally to the shoulder blade. Its functions are to move the scapulae and support the arms. These muscles are usually overused and painful due to much stress and improper postures.

Acupuncture is a useful tool to release trapezius muscle pain. There were 20 women aged ranging from 18 to 40 years with upper trapezius muscle pain for average 5.55 years. They were treated with acupuncture After 9 sessions of acupuncture treatments, a reduction in pain intensity was observed on the upper trapezius muscle on both sides. The Pain pressure threshold increased significantly on both sides at the end of the treatment. A significant increase in the electromyography values of the trapezius during isometric contraction was observed at the end of treatment.

Acupuncture for myofascial pain

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) refers to pain and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues. This is a chronic condition that affects the fascia which is connective tissue that covers the muscles. Myofascial pain syndrome may involve either a single muscle or a muscle group. The person experiences pain either in the area where the pain originated or in other area where is far from the pain originated. Myofascial pain is mainly caused by injury such as injury to the muscles, excessive strain on a particular muscle or muscle group, ligament or tendon, or injury to muscle fibers. Other causes include repetitive motions or lack of activity. The symptoms of myofascial pain include pain with tender points. The pain can be worse with activity or stress. Pharmacological therapies include anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, and muscle relaxants. Acupuncture can help reduce pain and inflammation to treat myofascial pain. Acupuncture has been widely used for acute or chronic pain management.

Why can acupuncture treat myofascial pain?

In TCM theory, the entire human body is composed of sophisticated interconnected inner systems, which there is an “energy (Qi)” that flows through “meridian (or channels)” in each organ. When the flow of Qi is blocked, pain occurs. By inserting and appropriate manipulating a needle into some points, the channel could be unblocked, thereby reestablishing the free and normal flow of Qi and relieving the pain. Most acupoints are located along one of these channels (some are exceptional).

Recent research has shown that acupuncture has analgesic effect. Acupuncture at one hand acupoint induced a gradual increase in skin pain threshold. Acupuncture induces endogenous opiates release from the pituitary gland into plasma and cause analgesia in the central nerve system. Acupuncture releases neuropeptides inhibiting the primary sensory neurons in the spinal cord. These substances also help reducing inflammation and reducing inflammation response.

Acupuncture is for chronic musculoskeletal pain, which acupuncture points are more effective?

Chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) is very common which happens to one in four people. More and more people used acupuncture for pain relief for CMP. If you do choose acupuncture, you need to know that there is diverse usage of acupuncture points for pain relief. Commonly, a combination of local and distant points is used. However, the difference between the effects of local and distant point stimulation is not clear. Recently a review investigated this subject. They studied a difference in effects between stimulating local and distant points, and the combination of both when compared with either alone. Nineteen were included in the qualitative analysis and 15 in the meta-analysis. Local and distant point stimulation was more effective than their respective controls in pain reduction immediately after treatment. Three studies directly compared the stimulation of local and distant points and found no significant difference between the two. No studies compared combined local and distant point stimulation with either alone. Subgroup analyses showed that, local tender point stimulation was more effective than local acupuncture points. Local and distant point stimulation induces similar degree of acupuncture analgesia. The benefit of combining local and distant point stimulation is unknown. However, subgroup analyses suggested that local tender points could be important in the treatment of CMP for short-term pain relief.


References
Hopton A BMJ Open (2014) 4:e004964
Macpherson H et al PLoS One (2014) 9:E93739
Tan MG et al Ann Acad Med Singapore (2013) 42:133-7
Vikers AJ et al Arch Intern Med (2012) 10:1-10
Mao et al Prim Care (2010) 37:105-117
MacPherson et al PLOS ONE (2013) 8:e77438
J Am Board Fam Med (2013) 26:692-700
Aranha et al Rev Bras Fisioter (2011) 15:371-9
Chou LW et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med (2012) 2012:705327
Wong Lit Wan D et al Eur J Pain (2015) Feb 17. doi: 10.1002/ejp.671. [Epub ahead of print]
Bastos JL et al J Acupunct Meridian Stud (2013) 6:163-8
Iannuccelli C et al Clin Exp Rheumatol (2012) 30:112-6
http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1357513
Baeumler PI et al PLoS One (2014) 9:e113731

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Acupuncture for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a degenerated central (brain and spinal cord) nervous system disorder. The insulating nerve cover in the brain and spine is targeted and damaged by the immune system. This results in loss of function of the nervous system causing various symptoms depending which nerves are affected most. There are 2.3 milion people worldwide suffer MS. Medical management limits the frequency and intensity of disease activity, but only for persons with relapsing-remitting MS. The most common type of MS is relapsing-remitting (RR) MS. In this type, s series of attacks followed by complete or partial disappearance of the symptoms until another attack occurs. It may be weeks to years between the attacks. The symptoms can be from mild to severe. Vision disturbances could be the first sign of MS. Limb weakness with or without difficulty of coordination and balance could be early symptom. Other common symptoms include muscle spasm, fatigue, numbness and pricking pain. Loss of sensation, speech impediment, tremors or dizziness can exist. Mental changes include lack of concentration and attention, memory loss, impaired judgment and performing sequential tasks, depression etc. Sexual dysfunction and reduced bowl and bladder control can develop as the disease worsens. Early treatments are recommended for patients with MS. Apart from medications, patients with MS are seeking complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as an additional treatment option.

Acupuncture has been used in the management of neurologic conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson's disease. Acupuncture is also used in treating MS. There are also some studies on the effect of acupuncture on MS. This study is involved in a few aspects such as MS quality of life, MS fatigue, MS spasticity and MS pain.

For example, there is a case report of a sixty-five-year-old male with a twenty-year history of MS. The patient was received with Chinese scalp acupuncture once a week for ten weeks, then once a month for six more sessions. There was significant improvement in well-being, gait, balance, spasms, and incontinence. Another study has shown that after electroacupuncture of 10 weeks on nine MS patients with bladder dysfunction, mean urge frequency decreased significantly and mean number of daytime leaking episodes decreased. A study by McGuire examined the effect of acupuncture on the fatigue of a fifty-year-old female with MS who received twenty minutes of acupuncture once a week for seven weeks. There were reports of improvement on fatigue. Another study on twenty MS patients received twelve sessions of acupuncture over two months following an unsuccessful trial of the antifatigue medication Amantadine. Five of the twenty patients recorded improved scores on the FSS. Also there was a report that acupuncture improved coordination and fewer slips and trips with effects lasting for eight months in MS patient.

A study evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture in treating forty-nine MS patients with chronic pain using a case series pretest/posttest design. Patients received biweekly acupuncture treatments for six months and noticed significant improvements in the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI).

From these studies we can see acupuncture is a potential treatment option for MS patients, though much of the research needed for the efficacy of acupuncture.

There was a report by Kerr Grieve et al from Tayside MS research unit, Ninewells hospital and medical school, Dundee, Scotland. They had positive data to support that acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain and other MS symptoms. There were 20 patients with MS involved in the research. 85% were female aged 20 to 60 years. Duration of diagnosis was 1-29 years. All of the patients had been attending the clinic for between 3 and 24 months. The majority were receiving acupuncture on six weekly bases. 18 patients had some reduction in pain. 9 patients scored the level of pain relief as 8/10 or better. 18 patients had pain relief for four or more weeks. Improvement of sleep pattern, mood, energy levels and mobility was also subjectively improved, though not as much as pain relief. 9 patients had a temporary increase in pain. 55% of patientsreduced their use of pain killers and 3 stopped additional pain killers completely. The authors were confident that acupuncture could be a treatment for apin and other MS related symptoms for patients with MS.

Recently a survey conducted by Stoll SS et al from Neurology department in Drexel University College of Medicine Phyladelphia USA about using CAM treatment for patients with MS. 111 patients with MS completed the survey properly. All patients used non disease-modifying agents (non-DMA agents). 65 patients (58.6%) exercised on a weekly basis. 64 patients (57.7%) used CAM therapies such as acupuncture and massage, or osteopathic manipulative treatment and psychotherapy.

Quispe-Cabanillas JG et al investigated the effect of acupuncture in 31 patients with relapsing-remitting type of MS under treatment of immunomodulators. The patient’s quality of life was assessed to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture. They found that acupuncture improved various aspect of quality of life for those patients including reduction in pain and depression. Foroughipour M et al also observed the effectiveness of acupuncture in 20 patients with MS. They found that 12 sessions of acupuncture improved the fatigue symptom in patients with MS who were resistant to the medication amantadine.

References
Stoll SS et al J Am Osteopath Assoc (2012) 112:22-8
Quispe-Cabanillas JG et al BMC Complement Altern Med (2012) 12:209
Foroughipour M et al Acupunct Med (2012)
Kerr Grieve et al J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry (2013) 84:e2.
Karpakin HI et al Evid Based Completment Alternat Med (2014) 2014:972935

Sunday, 20 July 2014

High FSH to get pregnant ?Acupuncture can help

Age affects fertility

A more recent study of university students in Sweden found that half of the female students were not aware of the age-related decline in fertility and intended to have children after the age of 35. There is clear evidence of an age-related decline in female fertility. By the time women reach 35 years of age, their fertility is declining markedly. This presents that the number and quality of eggs decrease; also genetic abnormalities and spontaneous abortion increase noticeably with female age. A study involved in 1000 women in pregnancy showed that 71% of women aged 30 conceived within 3 months whereas only 41% of women aged 36 conceived within 3 months. A negative effect of increasing male age particularly in the late 30s was also found. A study involved 2112 women in pregnancy showed that increasing age for both men and women take longer time to conceive. There were some other studies presented similar results.

There is a significant decline in clinical pregnancy rate, implantation rate and delivery rate per embryo transfer associated with increasing female age in assist reproductive treatment. A recent study of all IVF clinic in Netherland found that the overall live birth rate per cycle decreased by 2% for each additional year of female age. Another study involved in 36483 treatment cycles in assist reproductive treatment reported that women aged 25-29 achieved a live birth rate of 25.9% while women aged 40-44 only achieved 6.1% live birth rate. The poor live birth rate in older women greatly attributes to spontaneous abortion

What is the best marker of reproductive age in normal women?

Study showed that a woman’s optimal fertility age is before 30-31 years. And then fertility decreases gradually and this decline is accelerated towards age of late thirties. It is generally accepted that reproductive ageing is ovarian ageing and the quantity and quality of the pool of follicles in the ovary decreases. There are many tests that are used to measure ovary function. What is the best marker to measure reproductive age? GJ Scheffer et al compared several markers. These include that antral follicle counts (2-10mm), total ovarian volume, total follicular volume, mean follicular volume, and volume of either the smallest or largest ovary; FSH, estradiol and inhibin B and the response of estradiol and inhibin B to exogenous GnRH agonist. They tested these markers on 162 healthy female volunteers aged 25-46 years. These women were proved with normal fertility and regular menstrual cycles. All marker tested excerpt inhibin B were correlated with age, but the number of antral follicles was highly correlated with age. Their conclusion is that the number of antral follicles has the closest association with age in normal women with proven fertility.

Age and mother’s menopause affect women’s fertility

Women are born with all the eggs they ever have. Women are most fertile between the ages of 18 and 31. When women are getting older, their egg quantity and quality are declining. They become less fertile. Research suggested that genetic factor contributes to women’s fertility. Women whose mothers had an early menopause had much fewer eggs in their ovaries than those mothers had a later menopause. These women with fewer eggs have fewer chances to conceive. At present there is no test that can predict women’s fertility accurately. There are two approaches to assess the supply of eggs remaining in the ovary: anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) and antral follicle count (AFC). Researchers found that both AMH and AFC declined faster in women whose mothers had an early menopause ( before the age of 45) compared with women whose mothers had a late menopause (after the age of 55). Dr Valentine Akande, a consultant gynaecologist and spokesman for the British Fertility Society said that the findings were helpful, but that women should not be overly concerned if their mother did have an early menopause. The variation of egg quantity in women is enormous. The earlier you are trying for a baby the more chances to be successful.

With age disadvantage and high FSH you still have chance to get pregnant

When women reach their forties, their fertility falls down. As mentioned above in humans the follicles in ovaries are fixed at birth and decrease with age. The follicles are constantly disappearing either died or growing to ovulate. From the age of about 35 onwards, fertility declines quickly. This presents that the number and quality of eggs decrease; also genetic abnormalities and spontaneous abortion increase noticeably with female age. The rate of follicular depletion speeds up resulting in a decreasing number of good qualities of follicles. A protein inhibin B produced by follicles dropped and FSH is elevated in circulation. FSH is a hormone produced by pituitary gland which is located in the brain. FSH stimulates ovaries for eggs growth. If your ovaries don’t function well or you run out of eggs, your ovaries do not respond to FSH like normal ovaries do, the eggs don’t grow well. In this circumstance your pituitary gland works hard to produce more FSH trying to stimulate ovaries function and eggs to grow. As a result your FSH level is high, which means that you have poor ovarian response or poor ovarian function or poor ovarian reserve or ovarian failure. Your egg quality and quantity will be poor. Also endometrial lining became impaired as well. All of these contribute to the declined fertility with aging.

How old a woman can be to achieve pregnancy with assisted conception approach? Check JH reported a case that a 46 year old woman with high day 3 estradiol and FSH. She conceived on her third IVF-ET attempt. She delivered a healthy full term baby girl. This was believed to be the first case report of a successful pregnancy in a woman of such an advanced age with diminished ovary reserve using her own eggs. This report showed that pregnancy is possible in similar circumstance.

How high is FSH that can be treated to achieve pregnancy? There was a case report that a woman with premature ovarian failure and high FSH 164miu/ml was treated and got pregnant in her ninth cycle treatment and delivered a healthy boy.

Is there other treatment available for high FSH? Estrogen or birth control pills will temporarily suppress FSH to normal level. However this does not improve your infertility

Can acupuncture help if your FSH is higher than normal? Acupuncture can stimulate the nerve ends to the ovaries and improve ovarian blood flow and help follicles grow, as a result this restore hormonal balance and lower FSH. Acupuncture also stimulates the brain and rebalances the hormones.

NHS offers IVF to women in age 40-42

New NHS guidelines state that couples struggling to have a baby should get fertility treatment more quickly and older women should gain access to IVF. The guidelines recommend that women aged between 40-42 should be offered one cycle of IVF if it is their first time and they have enough eggs; women aged under 40 are offered three cycles of IVF. It is widely known when a woman reaches her 30s her fertility begins to decline, and this decline in fertility is speeding up in her late 30s. IVF success rate is going down with increased age. IVF success is rare in women over 45.

Why this is the case? The ovary aging is the cause of this declined fertility. It has become clear that the decline in fertility with increasing female age is largely due to a rapid decrease in egg quantity and quality with a higher proportion of eggs having genetic abnormalities. On the contrary, the reproductive capacity of the uterus does not decrease with age even in late 40s and 50s. This is seen in the use of younger donor eggs, women who are menopausal can achieve very high rates of conception.

Fertility declines with aging in both men and women and acupuncture can help.

Women are born with all eggs in the ovary which cannot be divided into other cells. The egg numbers are only declining with age. The process is speeded after women turn 35 years of age. On the contrary, there are gonocytes or primitive germ cells in the normal men’s testes. These cells can split without limitation. The cells split can become another gonocytes which could further divide; or they can become mature sperm cells. Gonocytes supply within testes can be last very long time and mature sperm cells can be produced. This is the main reason why a man’s fertility does not decrease significantly with age as women’s.

However, fertility in both men and women decreases when they reach certain age. In men semen parameters could begin to decline as early as age 35. Semen volume and motility would decrease and morphology could gradually become abnormal. After age 40, there could be notably DNA damage in their sperm; motility and viability continues declining. With an increase in age in men, the time to pregnancy for their partner increases. In women, fertility is significantly lower in the 30s and 40s. The number of eggs decline, woman’s menstrual cycle become shorter, menstrual irregularity begins 6-7 years before menopause, infertility increases, the time to pregnancy increases and also the chances of staying pregnancy becomes lower. If you start trying to get pregnant and there is still no luck, this could be not because something is wrong, but it could simply because you and your partner’s age. It takes longer for you to get pregnant. In this situation, apart from changing life style and exercises etc that you can help yourselves, why don’t you try acupuncture? Acupuncture is recommended as one of the treatments to encourage fertility by some doctors.

References
Check JH Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol (2011) 38:209-10
Check ML Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol (2004) 31:299-301
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20217735
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21505578
Fotrman EJ et al Maturitas (2011) 70:216-21
GJ Scheffer et al Human Reproduction 18:700-706
http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/getting-pregnant-easy-ways-to-encourage-fertility?page=3
Homan GF et al Human Reproduction Update (2007) 13:209-223

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Not ovulate, acupuncture improves ovulation

The ovary is a special reproductive organ in women. In ovaries follicles develop into oocytes; eggs are released from ovaries; remaining part of the follicles forms corpus luteum. This generates women’s menstrual cycles. There are three phases of menstrual cycles: follicular phase, ovulation and luteal phase. Each phase has distinct with featured hormone levels. The hormones are produced in three areas: hypothalamus, anterior pituitary gland and ovaries. The hypothalamus produces gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnR) which stimulates the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces both follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) which stimulate the ovary. The ovary secrets estrogen and progesterone. FSH and LH inhibits production of GnRH. Low concentration of estrogen increases release of FSH from the pituitary gland. High level of estrogen decreases FSH and increases LH secretion causing LH surge. This is called hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis. This axis is in control ovulation. Any dysfunction of this axis may result in anovulation and irregular period. It also can lead to infertility caused by no ovulation. The leading cause of infertility is ovulation dysfunction, either no ovulation or irregular ovulation.

Anovulatory cycle is a menstrual cycle which ovulation does not occur and there is no egg released from the ovaries. Women would think if they have periods, they must be ovulating. This is not necessarily the case. You don’t have to ovulate to have periods. This is called anovulatory cycle. The cycles could be regular with variations of period intervals. These cycles are without ovulation and a luteal phase. Anovulation is a common cause of infertility which occurs in up to 40% of infertile women. Women without ovulating may have irregular periods, or no periods. It is possible that women with regular periods have no ovulation. Once they try to conceive and they start to detect the problem. Because no egg is released and fertilization becomes impossible, the women cannot conceive. Basal body temperature charting is a valuable tool to identify anovulation.

Normal menstrual cycles are 28 days (21-35 days) with follicular phase, ovulation and luteal phase. Ovulation occurs in the middle of the cycle and corpus luteum which produces progesterone forms after ovulation. After 14 days, corpus luteum decayed and stopped producing progesterone. Uterine inner lining shed off without the support of progesterone in the case without pregnancy. This is called progesterone withdrawal bleeding. In the case of anovulation, there is no progesterone produced. Bleeding is caused by inability of oestrogen to support uterine inner lining growth. It is called oestrogen breakthrough bleeding.

There are many factors that cause anovulation and here are some common causes of anovulation.

Hypothalamic-pituitary causes

Hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian-axis dysfunction. This is caused by problems of hypothalamus or pituitary gland in the brain. As a result the hormones are not balanced which does not trigger ovulation and leads to infertility. The reasons that affect hormone balance include stress (see below); the other common causes are excessive exercises and/or underweight.

As we already known that subtle environmental changes may alter the menstrual cycle and cause anovulation. For example, summer camp menstrual disturbances and exam anovulation. Women in emotional stress could have no ovulation. This is temporary situation. If women get out of the stress environment, menstruation and ovulation could be returned. However if this situation is prolonged, anovulation could be persistent. Finding the causes of stress situation and avoiding the causes are the keys for ovulation to return. Many therapies could help reduce stress, such as psychological therapy, yoga and acupuncture etc.

Ovarian causes. If ovary does not respond to FSH and LH, this also causes ovulation problem.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is commonest cause of anovulation related infertility. It explained 70% of the cases. Women with PCOS have imbalanced hormone levels. This may produce multiple cysts in ovaries, irregular period cycle, anovulation, infertility, acne and excessive hair growth and other symproms.

Premature ovarian failure (POF). In women with POF, their ovaries fail to function properly before menopause occurs. The ovaries don’t respond to FSH and there is no ovulation. They have difficulty to get pregnant.

Treatments that reduce stress can be effective to improve ovulation. Acupuncture helps treating anovulation by stimulating nerve endings and correcting hormonal imbalance. Acupuncture is very effective treatment for anovulation. Acupuncture reduces stress by regulating response to stress and altering stress related chemical substances levels; improves hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis function and regulates blood hormone level. As a consequence, it improves ovulation and pregnancy rate.

Here are some clinical reports about the effectiveness of acupuncture on anovulation.

There was a control trial with acupuncture group and control group (treated with Clomephene). 25 cases in each group were given 6 cycles treatments. And then ovulation and pregnancy rate were compared between the two groups. Ovulation rate is not significantly different between the two groups. The pregnancy rate is higher (44%) in the acupuncture group than in the control group (16%).

There was a case report from a reproductive health institute center in Sichuan in China. They reported the effectiveness of acupuncture on women with anovulation. Ovulation rate was from 70-80% and pregnancy rate was from 40% - 60%.

Recently Yan and Liu summarised some case reports about effectiveness of acupuncture on increasing ovulation. They collected 21 papers which used acupuncture treated anovulation associated infertility.

Here are some typical cases.

Chen et al treated 42 patients with infertility associated with anovulation. 41 of them ovulated.

Kou et al used acupuncture treatment for 50 cases of anovulation associated infertility. 40 of 50 patients achieved pregnancy.

Chang et al used acupuncture for 32 patients with anovulation associated infertility. 9 patients achieved pregnancy during 1-3 month of acupuncture treatment. 22 patients achieved pregnancy over 4 months of acupuncture treatments.

Case report for effectiveness of acupuncture on infertility caused by anovulation

There was a study about effectiveness of acupuncture for infertility without ovulation. There were 50 women with infertility without ovulation. There women were divided into two groups: acupuncture group and control group. Control group was treated with clomiphere and injection of chorionic gonadotropin. The period of treatment was 6 cycles and ovulation rate and pregnancy rate were measured. The results showed that there was no difference in the ovulation rate between the acupuncture group and clomiphere group. However the pregnancy rate in acupuncture group was significantly higher (44%) than that for control group (16%). In addition the score of mucus and endometrial thickness was greater in acupuncture group.

This is a case report on effect of acupuncture treatment of infertility caused by ovulatory problems. 120 patients with infertility caused by ovulatory problems were divided into two groups: acupuncture group and clomiphene control group. 3 treatment cycles were applied. Result showed that similar ovulation rate was observed in both group, but pregnancy rate was higher and abortion rate was lower in acupuncture group compared to control group.

References
Yan and Liu Shanghai J Acu-mox, (2005) 24:40-42 (针灸促排卵临床概况)
Song FJ et al Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2008) 28:21-23
Jiang and Ding Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2009) 29:21-4

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Varicocele and male infertility

Varicocele and male infertility

Infertility affects about 1 in 6 of the couples of reproductive age1. The male factor is involved in 40% - 50% of infertility cases. The most common type of male infertility is unexplained infertility, which is unknown cause. Another common cause of male infertility is varicocele which is enlarged veins in testicles. 78% - 93% of cases varicocele is located on the left side. The left internal spermatic vein inserts into the left renal vein at a right angle which leads to an increase in the hydrostatic pressure of the left spermatic vein causing its dilation. Also internal spermatic veins lack functional valves, which can lead to regression of blood. Possibly there is a partial obstruction of the left spermatic vein due to the compression of the left renal vein between the aorta and the upper mesenteric artery . Varicocele causes elevated temperature of the scrotum possibly due to reflux of warm blood from the abdominal cavity. High temperature causes thermal damage of the DNA and proteins in the nucleus of spermatic tubules' cells and / or Leydig cells. The increased vein pressure can influence testicular blood flow, cause accumulation of toxic metabolites which leads to chronic vasoconstriction and subsequent dysfunction of the spermatic epithelium. Men with varicocele have high FSH level and low sperm counts. Surgical repair of varicocele has been shown to restore the temperature in both animals and humans. However fertility potential is not always improved after surgical repair of varicocele though semen parameters were improved.

Oxidant stress and male infertility

Half of all cases of infertility have male factor involved. Oxidant stress damage to sperm is a significant contributing pathology in 30–80% of cases. What is oxidant stress? In cellular metabolism, there are free radicals produced and they can damage cells and also there are antixodants against this damage. If balance between free radicals and antioxidants is broken, oxidant stress occurs. If oxidant stress occurs in sperm, it reduces the sperm's motility and ability to fuse with the egg by damaging the sperm membrane and sperm DNA. This may cause male infertility. Oxidant stress is not screened nor treated. The possible causes of oxidant stress come from many sources such as life style including smoking, drinking alcohol, stress, environmental factors including heat, pollutions, infections, autoimmune problems, chronic disorders etc.

Management of oxidant related stress include: change life style, reduce exposure to toxic environment, treat infections and inflammations etc. Taking some supplements such as vitamine C, B complex, and E may help reducing oxidant stress. Acupuncture may help reduce oxidant stress by improving blood circulation and taking toxic free radicals away.

Sperm is impaired by inflammation and acupuncture can help

Semen quality is affected by prostate and genital tract inflammation. There was a study on 382 voluntary male subjects who underwent the screening for prostate health. Sperm motility and prostate-related parameters were significantly impaired in patients with chronic prostatitis syndromes and lower urinary tract symptoms in comparison with controls. Elevated seminal markers of inflammation were in positive association with body mass index, prostate-specific antigen, and estradiol level in serum while in negative association with semen volume, total sperm count, and sperm motility. It was suggested that one of the possible pathways for impaired reproductive quality in male subjects >45 years could be related to infection and inflammation in the genital tract with subsequent (partial) obstruction and damage of prostate and other male accessory glands. Previous study has shown that acupuncture could improve sperm parameter in men with genital tract inflammation.

What is ICSI?

ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This procedure can be used in male factor infertility with low concentration of sperm, low sperm motility and low sperm morphology. This procedure involves that individual sperm is picked up manually and injected into the inner part of the egg. The egg is obtained through the same egg retrieval procedure as IVF. This usually results in normal fertilization in about 75-85% of eggs injected with sperm of course depending on the clinics.

Do you know acupuncture can help increase sperm counts and improve sperm motility in men with varicocele?

Acupuncture may help male fertility by lowering scrotal temperature, reducing inflammation, improving circulation and improving sperm maturation.

References
Tremellen K Hum Reprod Update (2008) 14:243-58
Kantartzi PD et al Hippokratia. (2007)11: 99–104.
http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/male-infertility.html
Ausmees K et al World J Urol (2013) 31:1411-25
Siterman S et al Asian J Androl (2009) 11:200-8

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Acupuncture helps improving foot drop

Foot drop, sometimes called drop foot is a muscular weakness or paralysis that makes it difficult to lift the front part of your foot and toes. This causes the toes to drag along the ground while walking. To avoid dragging the toes, people with foot drop may lift their knee higher than normal. Or they may swing their leg in a wide arc. Foot drop can happen to one foot or both feet at the same time. Foot drop is a symptom rather than a condition. The causes could be muscle disorders, nerve damage in the leg, or brain and/or spinal injury. Muscles disorders including muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and polio cause the muscles to progressively weaken causing foot drop. Some conditions including sports injuries, diabetes, spending long hours sitting cross-legged or squatting, hip or knee replacement surgery, childbirth etc could cause peroneal nerve damage or compressed causing foot drop. Brain or spinal disorders including stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS) and cerebral palsy also can cause foot drop.

The treatments depend on the causes of the foot drop which include physiotherapy, wearing an ankle-foot orthosis, electrical nerve stimulation and surgery. Acupuncture was also reported to be useful to help improving foot drop.

References
Jagirdar PC Indian J Lepr (1986 58:618-22
Liu ZP et al Zhongguoe Zhen Jiu (2012) 32:293-6

Monday, 16 June 2014

Tailbone pain, acupuncture can help

Tailbone pain, acupuncture can help

The medical term of tailbone pain is coccydynia. It is caused by inflammation of tail bone area. It presents with pain and tenderness at the tip of the tailbone between the buttocks. The pain is often worsened by sitting. Tailbone pain is often caused by an injury, such as sitting for a long time or bike rides, but it may have unknown causes. Vaginal birth in women sometimes is the cause tailbone pain. The coccyx or pelvic bones injury is a risk factor and obesity is also a risk factor for getting tailbone pain. Secondary tailbone pain includes sciatica, infection such as shingles of the buttocks, pilonidal cysts, sacroiliitis, and fractured bone. The major symptoms are pain and local tenderness at the tailbone. This can lead to difficulty sitting or leaning against the buttocks. Along with the pain with sitting, there is typical tenderness at the tailbone area. Treatments include rest and sitting on a pillow, cushion, or buttock support; avoiding reinjury to the affected area, anti-inflammatory pain killers; cortisone injection; physical therapy with exercises and last not the least acupuncture.

Slipped disc treated with acupuncture

A slipped disc or prolapsed or herniated disc is a condition in which the disc in the spine is torn and the central part inside leaks out. It causes chronic back pain. The pain is often begins in the lower back and over time it spreads to other parts of the body. Sometime there is no symptom. This is because the slipped part of the disc is small which will not affect nerves or spinal cord. If sciatic nerve is affected the pain could travel from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks and down the legs to the feet. It could be also accompanied with numbness, tingling sensation in legs. Muscle paralysis, muscle spasms and urinary incontinence are also common symptoms. If the nerves at the very bottom of the spinal cord become compressed, it causes cauda equina syndrome. The symptoms include lower back pain, numbness in the groin area, paralysis of one or both legs, rectal pain, bowel disturbance, inability to pass urine or incontinence and pain in the inside of the thighs. The interventions for slipped discs include acupuncture, advice to stay active, analgesics, antidepressants, bed rest, corticosteroids (epidural injections), cytokine inhibitors (infliximab), discectomy (automated percutaneous, laser, microdiscectomy, standard), exercise therapy, heat, ice, massage, muscle relaxants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), percutaneous disc decompression, spinal manipulation, and traction.

A recent study has shown that acupuncture had better effects than that of Fugui Gutong capsule and ibuprofen for slipped disc. The scores of clincial symptoms and therapeutic effect were observed before and after treatment. Results In the electroacupuncture group, the effective rate was 84.4% (38/45), which was superior to that of 65.0% (26/40) in the medication group. After treatment, the scores of symptoms significantly decreased in the two groups, and the reduction of scores in electroacupuncture group was superior to that in medication group.

Which acupuncture points are used to treat slipped discs? A study analysed data from recent 10 years. They found 49 main acupuncture points from 173 studies. there were 10 most common used acupoints on Bladder Meridian [Geshu (BL 17), Xiaochangshu (BL 27), Shenshu (BL 23), Dachangshu (BL 25), Pangguangshu (BL 28), Guanyuanshu (BL 26), Weizbong (BL 40), Zhibian (BL 54), Chengshan (BL 57), Kunlun (BL 60)], 2 on Gallbladder Meridian [Huantiao (GB 30), Yanglingquan (GB 34)], 2 on Governor Vessel [Yaoyangguan (GV 3), Shuigou (GV 26)], 2 on Stomach Meridian [Zusanli (ST 36), Juliao (ST 3)], 2 on Spleen Meridian [Sanyinjiao (SP 6), Xuehai (SP 10)], and the rest were extra points (Huatuo Jiaji) and Ashi points, so a conclusion could be drawn that the most common used acupoints were Bladder Meridian acupoints and supplemented by Gallbladder Meridian, Governor Vessel, Stomach Meridian, Spleen Meridian, extra points and Ashi points. The selected acupoints were most located on the lumbosacral region, leg and fewer located on the face, back and local part.

Acupuncture is effective for sciatic pain.

Sciatica is pain caused by irritating sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and it runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet. Sciatic pain can range from being mild to very painful and may last just a few days or for months. The pain of sciatica radiates out from the lower back, down the buttocks and into one or both of the legs, right down to the calf. The pain often gets worse over time and may also be made worse by: sneezing, coughing or laughing, standing or sitting for a long period of time, bending backwards. The accompanied symptoms can include numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, loss of tendon reflexes. The study was funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment program compared clinical effectiveness of management strategies for sciatica and it has shown that there was a statistically significant improvement following disc surgery, epidural injections, nonopioid analgesia, manipulation, and acupuncture. This study has provided new data to assist shared decision-making. The findings support the effectiveness of nonopioid medication, epidural injections, and disc surgery. They also suggest that spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and experimental treatments, such as anti-inflammatory biological agents, may be considered. The findings do not provide support for the effectiveness of opioid analgesia, bed rest, exercise therapy, education/advice (when used alone), percutaneous discectomy, or traction.

How can acupuncture help sciatic pain? First of all acupuncture increasing sciatic nerve blood flow was suggested. Secondly acupuncture improves nerve conduction. Finally acupuncture resumes brain activity in patients with sciatica.

Acupuncture reduces leg pain

Leg pain can be mild that comes and goes, or severe that makes it difficult to sleep and walk. The pain is often described as aching, throbbing or burning and it can be accompanied by numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. Leg pain can develop from leg injury, over exercise, tear or overuse. Problems that affect the blood vessels can also cause leg pain. These include peripheral arterial disorder, inflammation of a vein or blood clot etc. Another common cause of leg pain is the problem of low back where the nerve to the leg originates and then travels to the legs. For leg pain treatments, finding the cause is important and treatments depend on the causes. Acupuncture is used for the leg pain management.

References

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